Partnership and Treaty, not vague descriptions wanted in Healthy Futures bill

By Whatitiri Te Wake

Te Pae Ora (Healthy Futures) Bill is now before Parliament and aims to transform the health system - including the establishment of the Māori Health Authority.

And Māori MP's are making a last-ditch attempt to make changes that they say will encourage better health outcomes for whānau. National MP Dr Shane Reti has filed a supplementary order paper for the bill, seeking more attention on rural health.

And, as the debate continues for a better health system, Greens Health spokesperson Elizabeth Kerekere wants to get it exactly right.

“It should say partner, it shouldn't say consult, it shouldn't say engage. It should actually say 'partner with Māori', she said

Kerekere wants to see stronger language in the bill when it comes to health aims for Māori.

"The bill claims to adhere to Tiriti o Waitangi, rather than address those Māori disparities in health it wants to eliminate. It's still not there," she said.

Whitened out

The supplementary orders were debated and, like Kerekere, Te Pāti Co-leader Debbie Ngārewa Packer says the words are key in ensuring the inequities experienced by Māori in the past won’t be allowed under the new legislation.

“Making sure that the most critical reform to our health system that addresses the systemic racism isn't watered down or worst, whitened out”

“It's the kupu of 'tino rangatiratanga' that is a material change that we want to see included and not up to the interpretation of the  minister of the time,” she said

The government is confident in the structure.

“I'm confident that the structure we've got is very much an expression of tino rangatiratanga even though that particular word isn't being used,” Health Minister Andrew Little said.

Kerekere is optimistic about the changes: “I have high hopes and low expectations,” she said